A C-124 Globemaster, one of the Air Force’s largest heavy transport planes in 1952, hit a cliff on Alaska’s Mount Gannett, killing 41 passengers and 11 crewmen. Due to severe weather, the military gave up trying to reach the crash site. Layers of snow and ice entombed the shredded plane, as well as the remains of the passengers and crew, for over half a century.
But in June of 2012, a National Guard helicopter crew found pieces of the Globemaster’s wreckage on Colony Glacier — 40 miles east of Anchorage, and about 12 miles from the original impact site. Experts believe that the debris has been churning through the glacier for almost 60 years as it creeps downhill.
Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) arrived not long after the discovery, to extricate pieces of the craft and human remains from the ice.
The Air Force, Army, and National Guard deployed crash-recovery specialists, a Mortuary Affairs specialist, mountaineering specialists, chopper crews, and an explosive disposal team to the glacier, to bring closure to the victims’ families. DNA skeletal analysis, and dental records play a role in matching remains to the correct passengers, but it is taking years to resolve IDs.
Every summer since 2012, military and civilian personnel (Alaskan Command, Alaska National Guard, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, U.S. Army Alaska, 673rd Air Base Wing, and Detachment 1, 66 Training squadron) assist in efforts to recover human remains and remove plane debris in the ongoing mission of “Operation Colony Glacier.”
Like the catastrophe on Colony Glacier, we, too, may sift through a personal and secret “crash site” where life churns up memories. Has God abandoned us to relive the pain again and again — alone?
Two pillars of truth affirm God’s presence at our place of impact:
Jesus promises that he will never desert us under any circumstances. He has never loosened his hold on us, and he promises never to leave us helpless, rudderless, or alone.
NEVER (Hebrews 13:5.)
When we open our hearts to this promise, our faith triggers incomprehensible peace that can only be delivered if we believe (rely upon, trust in) the Prince of Peace (Jesus). Peace is a supernatural occurrence that transforms any devastating crash site into a mystifying place of rest (John 16:33).
And, unlike the pseudo-harmony that come from all forms of worldly intoxicants, God’s peace lasts. In the Bible we are encouraged to locate peace at all costs (Psalms 34:14). Then with added force, the Holy Spirit challenges us to chase it down.